Sunday, April 29, 2012

The In-Between Jobs Ride, Day 1 and 2

As I am presently in-between jobs, I had a week to get some riding in and "reboot" as it were.  My last job had turned quite toxic in terms of a work environment and I needed to clear my head before starting the new gig as contractor to TIAA-CREF.

So, my loving wife shooed me out of the house this past Saturday morning.  I left the house at 09:30AM and stopped by my friend Oscar's house to pick up a sleeping mat.  He didn't know though that his sons had cleaned out his supply of camping gear on their way out to Utah themselves!  

I lost an hour this way of daylight but no problem.  It was heavy duty slab riding on I-70 to the Utah Border and the final destination of Moab, Utah.  It took me a bit over 8 hours and it was heavy headwinds the whole damn way as long as I was facing West!  Poor Valencia could hardly hold 50 mph even on the straightaways!  Needless to say, on the inclines like when we crossed the Continental Divide, she struggled.

At the Utah Border

We got to Moab at 7:05 PM, I tried the online services for a cheap room but there was some large collectors car rally in town and not a room to be had for any kind of reasonable amount.  I checked out the Slippery Rock RV Camp and they had one last tent site for me!  

Man I was tired, even the flimsy sleeping mat I'd bought earlier at Walmarts in Rifle, CO seemed good.

 I woke early and managed to do a little tour of the Arches National Park in the "golden hour' just after dawn.  The above picture was taken much later after I'd finished riding Arches.  I didn't spend too much time at Arches as the really good stuff you have to hike to get to.  I don't hike, ten+ years in the Army cured me of that little habit!

Above and below, view of the Courthouse Towers Rock Formations
in Arches National Park

 Rock formation at Arches N.P.

 The Devil's Garden in Arches N.P.

 Balanced Rock at Arches N.P.

 A curious rock formation in
Arches N.P.

A view of the Moab Fault from
within Arches N.P.

From Arches, I tried unsuccesfully to find a breakfast place in Moab that wasn't overfull, so instead I tanked up and headed to the Canyonlands National Park which was about 35 miles away.  I figured there would be some place to get something to eat along the way.  I was wrong.

 Panoramic shot of the Monitor and Merrimac Rock Formations
that one sees while riding towards the entrance to Canyonlands National Park

 Valencia at one of the two overlooks from which to see the
Monitor and Merrimac Rock Formations

As I rode about Canyonlands N.P. I was beginning to think that it was a hiker's kind of national park in that there was not much in the way of views to pose one's motorcycle by.  How wrong I was.  I noted, while watching the view from the Grand View Overlook that there was a trail called Shafer's Road that seemed to dive down into the canyon below.  That was for me!

 A panoramic view of canyons from the paved road coming
from Grand View Overlook.

 See that thin road way down there in the floor of the canyon?
That's White Rim Road and you get to it via
Shafer's Road

 Now on Shafer Road, a view of White Rim Road from the top

 I like the symmetry presented by the canyon walls on the far side

 A view of Shafer Road and the way it hugs the side
of the canyon walls.

 The several hairpin turns on Shafer Road were very steep 
and very tight, Valencia and I went really slow.

 The paved road for Canyonlands N.P. sits atop the far side canyon
walls across from where Valencia is posing.

 Massive and very straight canyon ways would be my 
companions all the way down to the canyon floor.

 Shafer's Road is apparently very popular with bicyclists who were
chugging their way up the steep road.  That's the support vehicle
escorting three female riders who were riding up the steep slopes.

 Slowly making my way down the steep dirt roads, which were filled
with loose rocks of all sizes, big rocks poking out from the dirt and lots 
and lots of loose sand to break one's traction if not careful!

 Another view of the high canyon walls along Shafer's Road

 Still a long way from the bottom.

 As you can see, I'd come down quite a ways!

 Getting closer to White Rim Road.

 Looks almost level doesn't it, nope.  Still lots of up and down slopes covered
with rocks and sand and gravel.

 Another look back to where I'd come down from....

 On White Rim Road now, being passed by a dualsport rider.

It was shortly after the above picture was taken that I came up on a Park Ranger who flagged me down to check for my license plate.  Only "street legal" motorcycles are allowed on this road you see.  He advised me that I'd missed my turn for Potash Road which is the way back to Moab.  I was instead headed out towards a 110 mile loop that is the White Rim Road!  Needless to say, I was very glad the Ranger was there.

I got myself turned around and found the road per the Ranger's instructions.  He had some doubts as to Valencia's ability to negotiate Potash Road as the first couple of miles were much more difficult, he said, that anything I'd ridden so far today.

I didn't want to climb up Shafer's Road though, as I believed I'd end up burning up the clutch on Valencia so Potash Road was my choice.  Man, I should have listened to the Ranger.

 Right after the first 1/4 mile of so of road on Potash Road.  The
Range had not been kidding.  Very steep, very sandy, and rocks out the wazzo!

 Potash Road did have some really nice rock 
formations of it's own though.

 Along Potash Road

 A view of one of the steeper points of Potash Road with
large exposed rocks along the center.  I basically held Valencia's brakes
tight and inched my way down the part that was all exposed rock.

 As I got further along on Potash Road, you can see views of 
the Green River.

 Panoramic view of the one of the gooseneck turns of 
the Green River.

 Many, many nice and large rock formations are there
for your enjoyment along Potash Road

 Another view of Green River.

 The rock formation in the background will be forever known as 
"you left the parking brake on" rock formation.  I rode perhaps 1/4 mile with
the brake on before I realized it.  No apparently damage luckily.

 Made it, here's Valencia at the start of Potash Road.
Below pic gives you some information about this road.

 AFTER leaving Potash road, there was about five more miles of dirt 
riding before I finally got to pavement!  Man, I was glad to get to
that pavement!

 Another "Balanced Rock" just before one finds pavement.

Once on the pavement, it was 19 miles of blissful smooth pavement all the way back to Moab.  I got back with no issues, tanked up again and got an early supper since I'd not eaten a thing all day and I was famished.

The rest of the afternoon was spent processing photos, and modifying them just a touch to remove the "washed out" look of the original pics.  Then posting them via the slow WiFi connection at the camp site and as I type this, I am looking forward to bed.

Tomorrow I head south towards Monument Valley, but will check out a park or two along the way if I can find the right maps!  Hope you enjoyed the pictures, there's video too but it's late and it's taking too long to upload the videos.  I'll add them later on when I have better Internet access.  So subscribe to this posting when you leave a comment and you'll be notified when videos are added.

Note: No GoPro videos I'm afraid, I forgot it at home.  Doh!


Andrew Thomson said...

Great looking country. My Vee would love those dirt roads!

Unknown said...


great photos. We were at the top of Shafer Road when we were at Arches, but we had a rental car from Las Vegas and only 4x4 were allowed, according to the sign. The plan was to go back to Moab one day and rent a Pink Jeep.

what a great adventure you are having

Riding the Wet Coast
My Flickr // My YouTube

Canajun said...

Wow, just beautiful!

Chris said...

Nice Photos Dom! Good to see you out there enjoying the scenery before you have to slug it out back in a cube

Bring some food with next time. Makes it much easier :)

Anonymous said...

That curious formation in one of your photos is called The Three Gossips.

I took a 1976 IH Scout II down the Potash Road one time- the road got so rough that the truck was bucking and pitching to the point where the carb got gas starved and the engine died. I had a helluva time getting it started again.

Dude you are crazy- in a good way- to ride your bike to some of the places you ride it.

And the Monitor and Merrimack buttes- I had never heard those names before. I always called the one on the left 'Briefcase Butte' because it looked like a briefcase with the handle up to me.

Keith - Circle Blue said...

I'm so glad you are moving to another job. What a great way to get some space from the old toxic environment before beginning the new.

Great photos.

Great share!

Circle Blue

RichardM said...

Wonderful photos. I haven't explored there in over thirty years (almost infinity in network years) and I must say that your pictures make it look better than it did to me in person. I think my brain was melting from the heat!

You must really enjoy moving around between companies. Maybe I should try it sometime...

redlegsrides said...

Andrew....some parts of the roads would have been "interesting" on two wheels....I was having trepidations with 3 wheels!

Bobskoot you see what happens when you follow rules, you miss out on Mrs Bobskoot crying out in fear as the rental car slides towards the precipice! Kidding aside I saw several normal cars make it down just fine, even a minivan. Thanks for the kind words.

Canajun, thanks

redlegsrides said...

Chris, thanks for the visit and yeah, snacks would be nice.

Anonymous thanks for the name of the curious rock formation and for your tale on Potash Road....I don't believe I'll ride those roads again alone. Thanks for commenting.

Circleblue (Keith)....thanks for the comments.

redlegsrides said...

RichardM thanks for the kind words. Ironically, I had hired on at my last job thinking I'd be retiring with it in a few years...oh well.

BeemerGirl said...

Wow! I was thinking Courthouse Towers and Valencia was going to be the most breathtaking. Then I kept reading and scrolling. You were very daring with Valencia and Potash Road. Glad the adventure was easy. :)

Gary France said...

Wow. Just wow.....

I thought about taking the Leading Ladies down Shafer Road when I was there, but reading your post, I am glad I didn't!

Fantastic post Dom.

redlegsrides said...

Beemergirl, thanks but since I wasn't going to back up Shafer without taking a chance on smoking the clutch this early in the trip, then Potash was the only choice.....

redlegsrides said...

Gary, you made the right decision...those hairpin turns were really tight and steep and negatively cambered at times.....I wouldn't try it on two takes dualsport motorcycles, in my opinion, small ones.

Steve Williams said...

Damn it, I hate reading posts like this about places that I find it hard to not drool when thinking about them. For years they baked in my brain from reading Edward Abbey and then I had a spare week in Moab during an assignment to explore them in a van.

But to ride through those places like you have -- hell -- I'm jealous. Or maybe envious. Or both probably.

Beautiful, beautiful photos and lovely description of the experience. And I'm just now looking at day one.

Oh, and sorry that work became a toxic place. Good luck in your work with TIAA-CREF. Don't screw anything up-- Kim has money with them!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

redlegsrides said...

Steve thanks for your very kind words, means a lot coming from a real photographer like you.